Friday, October 2, 2015

The Beatitudes

     The Gospel Law is found in Matthew chapters 5 to 7, and begins with the Beatitudes.”

     “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain, and when He was set; and He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 
Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be filled. 
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. 
Blessed are they which are persecuted for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. 
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” 

     “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Ordinarily poverty is not considered a blessing and usually we seek to escape poverty by working or begging. But it is not poverty itself that is being blessed, but it is the realization of our poverty of spirit that is indeed blessed, for we must struggle to become rich in the spirit of God. Poverty of spirit makes us feel deprived and naked , and thus moves us to seek wisdom and knowledge in accordance with the divine proverb: “Blessed is the man that has found wisdom, and the mortal that has seen prudence.”   So those who are poor in sprit are blessed, not for their poverty, but for the realization of their poverty. Those who realize their poverty of spirit seek to acquire spirit so this is a beginning.

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 
     Those who are poor in spirit mourn their condition, being conscious of their misery and wretchednes in having transgressed the law of God. Their mourning attracts God’s mercy for He is good and is the only Lover of man. Worldly mournfulness  does not attract God’s mercy, for worldly mourners seek not spirit but material things. But holy mournfulness attracts the grace of God.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”  
     The opposite of unreasonable anger is meekness, for the meek, having experienced the mercy and kindness of God do not become angry, but are filled with gratitude. Meekness is a social virtue and the meek become innocent  lambs . They do not become  angry neither do they take the law into their own hands. We must all become  meek like Christ and inherit the earth over which God will reign forever.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice for they shall be filled.” 

     Those who have become meek hunger and thirst after the justice of God, eating it like bread and water. The meek seek God’s justice desiring it for everyone, for its is true justice giving each as they deserve. They hunger and thirst to see the divine law applied among all men.  The divine law regulates everyone’s actions so that they will conform with proper behavior, and to  always seek to do good to all. (Note the original Greek word herein properly translated herein as “justice,” usually is translated  “righteousness,” which does not support its correct meaning.

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”  
     Having become just according to God’s justice, the meek and just seek to become merciful as God is merciful. Seeing those who are poor and needy, they do all they can to alleviate their suffering. The more they show mercy to others, the more God shows His mercy toward the merciful. The great mercy of God gives us the greatest gift of all, everlasting life, which the merciful in turn seek to bestow on their fellow man.

     Justice and mercy are opposite virtues and each has to be properly applied. Justice demands that a person receives what he deserves, but mercy differs, giving many what they do not deserve. Those who have become just and merciful like God, practice these two virtues harmoniously. A working man earns wages and justice requires he be correctly paid. But when he takes from his money and gives it to an impoverished person, he does this out of his mercy.      

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  
     The merciful become pure in heart when their heart becomes pure like the clearness of the eye.  The healthy eye receives light and lights up objects; in the same way, a heart that is pure admits  super-sensible  light  and the heart then sees God and  His glory from whom proceeds the true light which lightens every man who comes into the world.   

A pure heart illumined by the Holy Spirit can see the Father and the Son. A pure heart can clearly see God in three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and rejects all false ideas men have of God which comes from an unclean spirit.                                                           

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” 
     A peacemaker seeks to make peace among dissidents in order to end hostility and enmity. The peacemakers whom Christ blesses  seek to reconcile men to one another and to God with whom they have become united. Men on earth are often inimically disposed toward each other and many mistreat the other contrary to God’s law and the natural law. God’s law says: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

     There is enmity between men and between God and men who violate His law and live lawlessly. The blessed peacemakers seek to correct these things through wisdom and knowledge from God. Christ is our peace and our peacemaker who makes peace between God and men. The cause of all evils among men is the devil, who makes war against the peacemakers attempting to prevent their work among men. Peacemakers are thus persecuted and Christ blesses them saying: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” 

     The peacemakers being filled with courage in their work, and being severely persecuted are sons of God and worthy of praise and honor.  However they are doing a wonderful work for they are by God’s will and grace, filling the kingdom of heavens with souls brought over to Christ. This is a great work, bringing the souls of men to salvation in Christ. Great is the reward of the peacemakers in the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
     Those who have kept the confession of faith will continue to be unjustly persecuted. They are courageous and unafraid of those who mistreat them in order to prevent their actions for Christ.  Being as meek as Christ but brave in the face of violent persecution, mistreatment and torture, they always remain fearless, and great compensations await them in heaven. Christ led the way by preaching, meekness and humility, miracle-working, suffering, crucifixion and death. But His resurrection astounded and scattered his enemies leaving them helpless, and shattering the underworld kingdom. And Christ reigns as King in the Kingdom of heaven and on earth.

“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
     The kingdom of God on earth is at war with the kingdom of the devil, whose kingdom is disabled and crumbling being shattered by the Cross. What is left of his kingdom rises against Christ’s brothers and companions in the kingdom. They knew from the start that they would be persecuted and willingly  endured all that befell them, for they know that great is their reward in heaven, for  previously the prophets were also persecuted and  put to death and are now glorified.  Words are not able to express the greatness of those men and women on earth who defend holy Orthodoxy even at the cost of their lives, coming from enemies within and outside of the Church. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad only begins to express the joy and happiness of the lovers of Christ and His kingdom.


Graduated Scale of the Seven Virtues
Blessed and Blissful

7. -- Peacemakers and those persecuted for justice’s sake. Soul-saviors, martyred sons of God. 
6. –The pure in heart. Children of love, the undefiled, the impeccable.
5. – The merciful.
4. – The just.
3. –The meek. The incapable of anger.
2. – They that mourn over their sins.
The repentant.
1. – The poor in spirit. The humbleminded.

Graduated Scale of the Seven Vices
Wretched and Miserable

7. – Troublemakers, mockers and persecutors of peacemakers.
6. – Those whose hearts are receptacles of every uncleanness.
5. – The pitiless and unmerciful.
4. – The lovers of injustice. The greedy and rapacious.
3. – The unreasonable and ferociously infuriated.
2. – The obstinately hard-hearted and unrepentant.
1. – Egoists; the haughty and the conceited.

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